Wireless Nurse Tracking System at Washington Hospital in Fremont Offers Promise, Raises Privacy Concerns
The San Jose Mercury News today profiles the efforts of Fremont-based Washington Hospital to launch a wireless tracking system to monitor nurses' locations. Although administrators believe the system will help them run units more efficiently and make it easier for nurses to respond quickly to patients' calls, some employees are raising concerns about the system's impact on their privacy. The tracking system, developed by Michigan-based Versus Technology, relies on ceiling-mounted sensors that read infrared badges worn by nurses. The sensors relay the location of each nurse to a central computer, allowing supervisors to track specific nurses in real time. The system also can record how long it took a nurse to respond to a patient's call, how many times a nurse entered a patient's room or how long the nurse spent in the room. The system makes it easier to find specific nurses without "running up and down the hall" and reduces the need to page nurses over intercoms, Alice Santos, director of the medical and surgical nursing unit that piloted the system at Washington Hospital, said. Nonetheless, some hospital employees remain opposed to the system. "It's a violation of my privacy and a waste of resources," Ken Krider, an ICU nurse at Washington, said. Santos said the hospital will not use the system to monitor the length of breaks, adding, "We're not using it in a punitive method." The hospital plans to launch the system next month in its renovated medical surgical unit, although administrators have yet to finalize details such as who will be required to wear the badges and whether the badges must be worn at all times. Hospital administrators have plan to expand the program throughout the hospital (Reang, San Jose Mercury News, 5/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.